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Sydney Pollack, 1934-2008

5.26.2008


Sad day. I just watched him as Patrick Dempsey's father in Made of Honor, and he was so full of life and looked healthy. He ended his battle with cancer today in L.A.

I confess I sometimes would get him confused with Sidney Lumet, but he's made some of my favorite films. Some of his best would be Out of Africa (1985), Three Days of the Condor (1975), They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), The Firm (1993) and Tootsie (1982). My favorite of course is The Way We Were (1973). (For those keeping score, I believe that's three, count 'em three, movies with Robert Redford!).*


I've always heard great things about his directing. One particular story is from the documentary on The Way We Were DVD, where Barbra talked about a particularly difficult scene she had to act as Katie Morosky. She's just been 'upstaged' by Hubell's paper in her writing class, so after class she runs out to a forested area of campus to throw away her own paper. It's a small but intense moment where she wanted to be able to cry, but it wasn't coming. So she said that Sydney sat behind a bush next to her in the scene and kept whispering to her about sad things: the death of pets, family stuff, etc. Sure enough it helped her perform the scene and cry. Barbra claimed that his directing taught her a lot about how a director should work with actors.

Pollack won two oscars, one for Best Directing and the other for Best Picture in 1985 for Out of Africa. His creativity and gift as a director and an actor will be missed.

*I've just learned that Pollack actually made SIX movies with Robert Redoford, including This Property is Condemned (1966), Jeremiah Johnson (1972), The Electric Horseman (1979), and Havana (1990).

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